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The New Rules Of Email Marketing

The old rules are broken. Familiar email marketing tactics might enable us to extract one more sale, but they are definitely not designed to respect our customers—the people who pay our bills, the same people we hope to matter to. They are busy and smart. We should treat them that way.


1. If you wouldn’t do it face-to-face don’t do it in an email marketing campaign.
You wouldn’t dream of knocking on the same customer’s door seven times in ten days (or three times in one day). Why is it okay to do this via email?

2. Consider the people who have given you permission to email them as individuals, who trust you.
Using collective terms like ‘my list’, ‘my followers’ and ‘my community’ distances you from the experiences, problems and feelings each potential customer has. Generalisations imply ownership, not leadership and addressing the collective stops you from creating the kind of messages, products and services they want.

3. Run everything through a generosity filter.
Ask yourself if your tactics are customer-serving or self-serving. Check that you’re not justifying a deluge of emails (that will generate more sales), by rationalising about dissatisfied customers missing out. Make giving before getting your goal.

4. Don’t say anything in an email (marketing campaign or otherwise), that you wouldn’t say to the reader’s face.
This is harder than you think. It’s easy for exaggerations to morph into half-truths or worse when you’re not looking someone in the eye. Act like you’re looking them in the eye.

5. Evaluate whether your email marketing strategy is aligned with your big picture business strategy.
Is attracting and converting ‘the most people’ today your number one priority? Why?
If not, what is?

6. Choose your metrics wisely.
When you focus on the sales numbers alone, it makes your marketing tactics appear desperate and stifles your creativity. Make what you measure reflect your values and trust your instincts.

7. Spend twice as much time finding ways to see your customers, as you do asking them to see you.
This blueprint is a good place to start.

8. Don’t feel compelled to follow the crowd.
You don’t have to use the tactics that other marketers use. Three tier pricing that gives the illusion of choice, or untruthfully creating a false sense of urgency or scarcity to make people fear missing out, will get you more sales today, but maybe you’d rather play the longer game?

Image by Axel Hartmann.